Food As Medicine: What Shoppers Are Looking For

April 27, 2020
by SPINS Marketing


Since the pandemic began to affect populations around the globe, one phrase we’ve heard over and over is “in these uncertain times.” The timeline for returning to normal events like going to school or eating at restaurants is still unknown. Every plan you make feels tentative and you might feel like you don’t have much control over anything right now.

Today’s shoppers have shown that they are taking control of one aspect of their lives within reach: their health. Spending trends in the natural and wellness market before and during shelter-in-place orders have followed the same pattern as other goods, with a lot of stocking up. But their reliance on natural and wellness products isn’t temporary. We’re witnessing a real-time shift in consumer mentality and, as a brand or retailer, now is the perfect time to adjust your strategy to reach more mindful shoppers going forward.

The Best Line of Defense

According to a survey conducted in mid-April by New Hope Network, 77% of people say personal health is more important today than it was in 2019. While that might not be surprising considering the global health crisis at hand, their other responses illustrate a deeper interest in a healthful lifestyle. Proactively managing their health and eating healthy food is important to 41% and 43% of surveyed consumers, respectively. Dietary vitamins and supplements are also more important now to 33% of consumers.

A healthy immune system is the best line of defense against illnesses and ailments. As consumers shop with a strengthened focus on health, they are mindful of what they grab off the shelf (or put in their online shopping cart). We’re witnessing shoppers in natural and conventional businesses establish a foundation of good habits in real time.


Food As Medicine

Consumers viewing food as a medicine is a logical extension of their newfound mindset. It’s no longer just worrying about their weight on the scale. If dietary choices are the path to a strong immune system and overall health, then expect shoppers to read labels and look for products that lead to benefits they’re looking for.

For example, when data from our own grocer and retailer partners demand for products that promote gut health:

Shoppers are also choosing items that provide healthy fats, satisfy sweet cravings without the sugar, prevent inflammation, reduce stress, and improve eye health did not slow due to the current pandemic but rather accelerated.

Start Now

The increased interest in healthful choices isn’t waiting for sheltering in place to end—it’s already here. Consumers have changed their behavior and many of them have nothing but time on their hands to research and test new products. They’re not waiting for an end to social distancing.

Right now, you have a captive audience who is still stocking up and looking for food, beverages, and supplements to incorporate into their daily routines. If you can land in their shopping carts and cupboards now, you can establish a relationship that will carry on beyond COVID. And as you plan for a post-social distancing marketplace, think about how you’re positioning your products to stand out in what will likely be a more crowded space. Look at data to understand which benefits you should be promoting, how your audience has grown, and if your competition has changed. You have an opportunity to reach new audiences and gain ground, you just need the right insights to get there.